Tuesday, July 2, 2019 10:23 pm
It was Monday, 20 May. A drama ensued on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway. Many residents and students, not minding downpour, turned out in large numbers to protest against the deplorable state of the highway. Led by Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, the President, Women Arise Initiative, they stormed the roundabout with placards screaming with, “Fix Lagos/Badagry Expressway. Our businesses are dying’’; “Bad Road, Our pregnant women are having miscarriages’’; and “We are not at war, Remove checkpoints on our road’’; “We are losing man-hours.’’
Just over 40 days after this, Lagos State Government flagged off the continuation of the road. This will be 10 years after the commencement of the ten-lane major artery. Performing the flag off, the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Dr Kadri Obafemi Hamzat stated that the return to the road not only marks the fulfillment of a promise made during a recent visit on June 2, 2019 to the people of the State by the Sanwo-Olu Administration but is also designed to bring relief to commuters who daily experience hardship on the road.
At the site office of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) contractors to the project, the Deputy Governor noted that the Sanwo-Olu administration would honour all the promises made to Lagosians.
He further stated that the project covers specifically the Agboju to Trade Fair segment as well as the rehabilitation of the Eric Moore – Mile 2 stretch.
The Deputy Governor, who stopped to address Lagosians who gathered while apprehending at least five (5) errant drivers who drove against traffic, urged citizens to remain obedient to the Laws that were made to ensure good life.
According to the Deputy Governor “we must obey the law, citizens co-operation is critical to what successes we will be able to record during this tenure. We must also monitor the project and report progress and observations to us.”
Hamzat further commended the co-operation of the Federal Government as both the State and Federal Agencies will be present along the road up to Seme border.
He explained that Lagos State is handling Eric Moore to Agboju while FERMA will do a four-lane maintenance to Agbara while the Federal Government has awarded Agbara to Seme as a six-lane Highway.
He said the State Government will deploy Taskforce to clean up the area and ensure free flow of traffic.
It should be recalled that the notion to expand the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, a major gateway connecting Nigeria and other neighbouring West African countries was conceptualized in 2009 by the Babatunde Raji Fashola administration to ease traffic in the region and upgrade the infrastructure from four (4) lane into ten (10) lane dual carriage.
The Lagos-Badagry project which is approximated to 60km long from Eric Moore to Badagry, consist of two major intermodal transport scheme namely Lagos-Badagry Expressway project and Lagos Light Rail Mass Transit project.
Earlier in his remarks, the General Manager, Lagos Office of CCECC, Mr. Bill Bian stated the Corporation’s commitment to ensure that the project is completed on schedule.
The Deputy Governor was accompanied by the Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works and Infrastructure – Mr. Olujimi Hotonu; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation – Dr. Taiwo Salam; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of the Environment – Mr. Biodun Bamgboye, General Manager, CCECC Lagos – Mr. Bill Bian and Six Local Government Chairmen.
Odumakin and the protesters must be happy today, unlike when in May when she complained: “We are in the rain today not because we like it, but because we want to make some demands; we are moving from Badagry to Mile 2. We are here because the Lagos-Badagry Express road has continued to serve as a route of anguish and pain; the state of the road is deplorable. We are seeing our economy ruined, we have seen women having stillbirths. We have seen our road becoming a road to the hospital and the mortuary, the time has come for us to rise up in unity.’’
“Time has come for us to demand that the government should fix the Lagos-Badagry road; we are here to demand that the road that leads to the economic hub of the ECOWAS sub-region be fixed. We have endured this for a very long time, and tourism in Badagry is now at its lowest ebb; we know the concession started in 2009 and several years after the road was awarded, nothing serious has been done about it.”
That day, Comrade Bokoh Oluwole, the Chairman, Gunuvi Rights Initiative of Nigeria was not left out. He said that they were protesting because of the bad state of the road.
“This is the first major international road in Nigeria, and the road is Trunk A. It is an international route, an international haulage route. This road serves industrial hubs, and government generates a lot of income from the route.
“This road construction began during the Babatunde Fashola administration and it has been on for over a decade and people are dying. At my bus stop, we lost two kids recently because of the nature of the road and some users are sometimes compelled to ply one-way.
“Those who go to Lagos to buy goods from Badagry now find it difficult to transport their wares without incurring losses.
“How long shall we continue to suffer like this, while the government pretends as if all is well? We just can’t continue like this,’’ he said.